How This Feels
I wanted her to know that I heard her story and I understood her...
In the beginning of my career at the Access Center I had a lot to get adjusted to. Having years of experience working face to face with patients, I had to learn how to show our callers that I could connect with them and really hear them. Working at what we call, the virtual front desk, we have days when we just want to show the patient and the callers that we are trying our best to connect them to their care team and set them up in the best way possible. And some days that can get more challenging than others.
I can remember one moment, one call, where I spoke with a patient’s daughter whose mother had just been diagnosed with cancer. And she was very upset and nervous about how this treatment would go. She explained to me that this could potentially be fatal and that she was scared that this was affecting her and that she was too young to lose her mother. And when I proceeded to try to get her set up the best way I could she wasn’t very pleased with having to wait and she mentioned to me that there isn’t much time. At one point she said to me, “You have no idea how this feels.”
And in that moment, I had to struggle through my own emotions because just a few years prior I actually lost my father to the same diagnosis. And I too felt that I was too young and that it was difficult to schedule his appointments, and share the news with everyone, and I knew it wasn’t easy. But I also knew I couldn’t tell her those things that it wasn’t about me and I wanted her to know that I heard her story and I understood her.
So, what I actually said to her was, “I do understand, and I hear you.” And I think she heard me too, we paused for a moment and I think she felt more calm. She allowed me to recap the next steps and talk through what we could do for her. And we eventually ended the call with her thanking me for being patient and working with her. And I feel like, right now in our world we so used to getting that instant answer and having everything work so quickly but sometimes we can’t get that. And that’s you know one of the challenges I had in that moment, but I think that being able to speak to her and listen to her and relate to her, I think that’s what really connects us.